Live Review: Jamie Lenman & Haggard Cat | Thekla, Bristol | 11/11/19

Jamie Lenman is a man that needs no introduction. We’ve watched his energetic performances at 2000 Trees, enjoyed his records for years, and honestly, it’s no secret that we really quite like him. When the announcement of a tour supporting his latest musical feat, Shuffle was released, we jumped at the chance to head to ye olde ship Thekla to party with him and the mighty Haggard Cat.

Opening the show at Thekla was Haggard Cat (9), a band came from the wreckage of HECK. They’re a riff-slinging, face-melting duo that showed Bristol no remorse. Opening with ‘First Words’, a song from their forthcoming album, the two immediately found their groove. While their new material puts out a slightly different vibe, the riff-heavy sound is undeniably Haggard Cat.

The sparse crowd was a little less than enthusiastic, but the interaction between Tom Marsh and Matt Reynolds was effortless. Frontman Tom Marsh chatted easily to the crowd too and as the onslaught of riffs continued through ‘Gravedigger’ and ‘Bone Shaker’, bodies were bopping in unison. ‘The Felon’ offered a brief reprieve with its atmospheric introduction. Marsh delivered the first chorus with a theatrical croon before the funkier guitar riffs took over. Reynold’s pounding on the drums ensured the pace picked and the crowd really started bopping.

While Haggard Cat only played a half-hour set, they ensured it was jam-packed with their most creative and attention-grabbing songs. From new song ‘European Hardware’ to their energetic rendition of Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’, the Nottingham duo showed themselves to be a powerhouse that provides both mighty riffs and some danceable guitar licks. Succeeding in getting the crowd warmed up was a bonus surprise, as they closed their set with the audience singing along to ‘American Graffiti’.

After an almost excruciating wait, Jamie Lenman (9) took to the stage in his usual upbeat fashion. Opening with a brilliant rendition of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, the packed ship was captivated. With session drummer Jack Wrench alongside him, Lenman’s sound quickly the attention of everyone present. The duo flew through ‘Waterloo Teeth’ and ‘Killer’ (which was followed by crowd mutterings of, “that was a good cover!”) before Lenman characteristically switched things up by jumping to bass.

Preceding Cyndi Lauper’s ‘She Bop’ was an amusing spiel about Jamie’s endorsement with Fender. Turning the most mundane happenings into enjoyable stage patter is one of Lenman’s defining features – he adds a personal touch to each show and makes an audience feel like old friends. Progressing through songs including Reuben's ‘Deadly Lethal Ninja Assassin’ at a rate of knots, Jamie Lenman ensured that his went from good to great.

Some melancholy acoustic songs further changed the pace and highlighted the diversity in Jamie Lenman’s music and style. ‘A Handsome Stranger Called Death’ held the crowd spellbound as Lenman crooned about a “tall, dark and handsome” stranger. ‘Coda’ and ‘Body Popping’ picked the pace straight back up, and ‘Devolver’ got everyone in attendance singing guitar riffs, something only managed by the most charismatic of frontmen.

‘Hey Jude’ closed Lenman’s set in a beautiful way. It got a room full of strangers singing and laughing together which was a real high point a beautiful show which spanned years of music. We enjoyed some brilliant music and had a brilliant night, as we always do when Jamie Lenman puts on a show.


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